10 May 2011

Joint US Wargames for Strategic Thinkers

The Air War College recently ran a large joint exercise for students of strategic programs at the different service schools.

The basic theme was The "World on the Brink" and was run out of Maxwell AFB.

He explained the exercise is a two-sided, computer-supported war game that takes place 10 years in the future. This year, with the addition of four lesser contingency scenarios, homeland security events and issues will have increased emphasis, as will mobility and reserve mobilization issues.

Mr. Crawford emphasized that JLASS-EX helps future senior leaders develop strategic and operational skills and also enhance student-to-student interaction, which is consistently listed as one of the high points during student and faculty feedback sessions.

"Players gain a significant amount of knowledge about the adaptive mission-planning system," he said. "They are getting a chance to meet face-to-face and may be working with each other down the road."

Mr. Daniels noted that just as their war planning is instituted to be real-world, the students will also face real-world obstacles, such as media and public pressures.

The "World on the Brink" is the theme of news covered by the fictional Global News Network, which airs daily news broadcasts. An "Early Worm" news brief, similar to the "Early Bird," is published each game day. In addition to their morning situation briefings, these are elements that students watch, read and react to that will affects their game play.

"The purpose of GNN is to expose the students to the media and help them develop the tools they need to be effective strategic communicators," said Col. Ruth Latham, the JLASS-EX media control chief and director of curriculum and faculty development for the U.S. Air Force Public Affairs Center of Excellence at the Spaatz Center for Officer Education.

Other participants included US Army folks from the School of Advanced Military Studies from Fort Leavenworth.

Each day brought fresh developments in the crisis scenarios and the planning teams were charged with conceptualizing potential solutions, framing choices for the decision-maker, prioritizing those decisions and developing follow-on guidance for combatant commanders. With a problem set that literally spanned the globe, there was no shortage of challenges, both in resourcing and prioritizing.
“There was unanimous feedback from our SAMS students that teaming up with SAASS, SAW and MAWS students, to provide sound military advice under time pressure, presented a unique experience for testing their leadership skills and learning how to think critically and creatively in an ambiguous, joint strategic environment,” Ryan said.
The exercise provided a rare opportunity for SAMS students to test their strategic chops, since the majority of their exercise work to date had been focused at the tactical and operational levels of war.
“For strategists, seeking the truth is more important than finding the truth,” said SAASS professor and noted strategic theorist Dr. Everett Dolman. “We know we learn more from failure than from success.”

By: Brant

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